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Monday, November 11, 2013
Young Chargers ready to step up

By Eric D. Williams

SAN DIEGO – Even though Demaryius Thomas finished with a game-high seven receptions for 108 yards and three touchdowns, San Diego Chargers cornerback Shareece Wright refused to be in awe of the talented Denver receiver's impressive performance.

Given another opportunity, Wright truly believes he can shut down the physical Thomas, who San Diego coach Mike McCoy calls one of the best receivers in the game.

"When I was able to play man on him, I did a pretty good job," Wright said, following the Chargers' 28-20 loss. "And lining up against him, I can press him at the line. He's just strong, so he's going to finish a little stronger at the top of the routes. He's got some little tricks to his game, and now I know how to play him.

San Diego's Tourek Williams
Like they were able to do against Peyton Manning last season, the Chargers are aiming to pressure opposing QBs more consistently in 2014.
"I'll be ready next time."

While not exactly a reflection of what happened, Wright's words are refreshing. Pro football is a young man's game. And for a San Diego squad that over the years leaned on veterans like Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates and Eric Weddle to lead the way, at some point young players like Wright have to emerge and have an impact in order for the Chargers to once again to be playoff contenders.

A third-round selection in the 2011 draft, Wright finally earned his opportunity to start this season after serving as a backup in his first two years. He's missed three games due to a hamstring injury, but during his time on the field Wright has flashed an ability to develop into a solid, NFL cover corner.

Another young player that made an impact for San Diego was pass-rusher Tourek Williams, a sixth-round selection in this year's draft. The Florida International product got his third start with Jarret Johnson inactive. And Williams made the most of it, chasing down Peyton Manning from behind for a strip sack in the third quarter, forcing a fumble that teammate Donald Butler recovered.

The momentum-changing play led to a 7-yard touchdown reception by Danny Woodhead, cutting Denver's lead to 28-13.

But Williams wasn't overly excited about the play, showing more concern that his team couldn't find a way to battle back for a victory.

"It feels good," Williams said. "But when you lose a game, I haven't even thought about that play since I left the field. So you've just got to play the game. The next time in that situation, we'll make the game-changing play and we'll finish."

Along with Williams, other players from San Diego's draft class this year have played well. Offensive tackle D.J. Fluker and receiver Keenan Allen deserve rookie of the year consideration. Middle linebacker Manti Te'o continues to improve with each game. And even someone like quarterback Brad Sorensen, a seventh-round selection out of Southern Utah, showed promise when he played in the preseason.

At 4-5 on the season, the Chargers are a team that is being developed for success down the road. But that doesn't mean young players like defensive lineman Corey Liuget are willing to except moral victories by playing elite teams like Denver tough on their home field.

"We don't care for moral victories," Liuget said. "Those don't get you where you want to be. We've just got to be prepared for the next one, and keep fighting and clawing."

And while the Chargers are building for the future, for guys like Weddle the future is now.

"We've got seven games left," Weddle said. "The whole season is right there in front of us. If you guys on the outside think the season is done, then don't come talk to me because we still have everything there."